Prevention a Focus for New Cancer Centre

Prof Graeme Young

About half of all cancers are caused by lifestyle factors and behavioural change strategies could save lives,   says South Australia’s Minister for Health and Ageing, John Hill.

He was speaking at the opening of the new  $29 million Flinders Centre for Innovation in Cancer, based at Flinders University Campus, which will be dedicated to discovering how to save lives through cancer prevention in a bid to relieve the heavy burden of cancer on the community.

“Prevention is much better than cure and so many times with cancer, we don’t have the cure,’’ he said.

“There is reasonable amount of evidence that diet can play a preventative factor on colorectal cancer whereas other cancers the evidence isn’t as strong in the role of diet.’’

The new world-class centre would focus on preventative strategies, particularly for oesophageal, colorectal and prostate cancers as well as conducting clinical trials on cancer treatments..

Bowel cancer has the second-highest death rate.

For FCIC’s president of the governing council, Professor Graeme Young, the opening of the centre represented the 10-year-long dream of building a “flagship ‘’ prevention unit.

“The establishment of this unit secures cancer prevention as the key platform at the FCIC,’’ he said.

“Cancer doesn’t develop overnight; it usually develops slowly over a number of years which gives us a window of opportunity to cure it.’’

Prostate cancer expert, Professor Ross McKinnon has been appointed head of the FCIC and other important appointments include Professor Pam Wykes, Professor of Preventative Cancer Biology and Professor Carlene Wilson, Professor of Cancer Prevention through behavioural approaches.

Professor Young, a renowned gastroenterologist,  said the centre would bring together laboratory scientists, public health researchers to examine public screening strategies and behavioural scientists as well as clinical trial nurses to examine surgical oncology outcomes and treatment analysis.

The Australian Cancer Research Foundation Cancer Prevention Unit, which is made up of  Australia’s most famous scientists, provided substantial funding for the FCIC, while the Flinders Medical Centre Foundation and the State Government also provided funds. About $8 million was provided from private donations.

ACRF chair of the board, Mr Tom Dery said money raised by the foundation for “fundamental sciences in treatment and prevention programs’’ had already saved many lives.

“The five-year survival rates for cancer has risen from 47 per cent to 66 per cent in 20 years,’’ said Mr Dery.

“They are terrific statistics, but we still have a long way to go. We are only 66 per cent we need to be 100 per cent.”

The FCIC incorporates the ACRF Cancer Prevention Unit, the LIVESTRONG Cancer Research Centre and a cancer treatment centre. The stylish building

was designed by Woodhead Architects and built by Hindmarsh and project manager was Lyn Travar.

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